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Rhubarb Panna Cotta

Classic rhubarb crumble & custard reimagined in the form of creamy panna cotta & hazelnut crumble.

I love panna cotta and I try and use seasonal ingredients wherever possible so when I picked up some rhubarb at the local market I decided to combine the two. Thick creamy vanilla panna cotta, gently poached rhubarb and a lightly toasted hazelnut crumble come together to create a summer dessert that everyone will love.

Makes: 4 panna cotta
Prep time: 20 minutes (plus chilling, minimum 4 hours but ideally overnight)
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Large heavy-bottomed saucepan
Wooden spoon
Sharp knife
Medium bowl
Four jars or tumblers to serve
Slotted spoon
Food processor or hand blender
Baking tray

Ingredients – for the panna cotta
480ml double cream
50g caster sugar
Half vanilla pod
Half tablespoon unflavoured powdered gelatine
2 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients – for the poached rhubarb & hazelnut crumble
350g granulated sugar
50ml water
200ml freshly squeezed orange juice
175g rhubarb
200g hazelnuts


1. Add the double cream and caster sugar to your saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring gently.

2. Cut your vanilla pod down the centre and scrap out the seeds, add the seeds and the pod to the cream and sugar mixture and bring the cream to a simmer. Stir continuously until the caster sugar has dissolved. Once the mixture reaches simmering point, discard the vanilla bean pod and turn the heat off but leave the pan to take in the residual heat as the hob cools.

3. Add the cold water to a medium sized bowl and sprinkle in the gelatine, leave to set for 7-10 minutes making sure you do not stir it at any point. The mixture will start to form a skin before eventually setting to a clear jelly.

4. Pour your cream mixture over the gelatine and stir until the gelatine has dissolved. Add equal amounts of the cream to your tumblers and place in the fridge to set, four hours should be sufficient but I like to leave overnight where possible.

5. About an hour before you’re ready to serve your panna cotta add your granulated sugar, water and orange juice to a large saucepan and bring to the boil, whilst your sugar mixture is boiling cut your rhubarb into 5cm pieces.

6. Once your sugar syrup has boiled add your rhubarb chunks to the pan and remove from the heat immediately. Allow the rhubarb to cool in the sugar syrup which will thicken as it cools.

7. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees. Blitz the majority of your hazelnuts in a food processor, retaining a few whole ones for decoration. Once your blitzed hazelnuts resembled crumbs, spread them over a baking tray and roast for 7 minutes.

8. Remove your panna cotta from the fridge and top with rhubarb and toasted hazelnuts. Serve and enjoy.

Panna cotta is surprisingly easy to make and takes just a few ingredients.

I am obsessed with vanilla and cooking with vanilla pods, they add such a depth of flavour and sweetness that is hard to replicate using extracts.

I like to use tumblers for a few reasons: it’s easy to see if you’re adding equal amounts of mixture to jars, they look pretty when they’re served and you don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll turn out if you make them in ramekins.

Rhubarb is a fantastic seasonal ingredient and it’s natural vibrant colours make sure it looks as good as it tastes.

The crunch of the hazelnuts is perfectly complemented by the deep vanilla cream of the panna cotta and the delicate and fragrant rhubarb making this a perfectly rounded dessert.


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